The R.I.S.E. of the Acronym? The F.A.L.L. of personality!

HLN | Headline News NetworkHLN for CNN’s Headline News. HGI for Hilton Garden Inn. Why would a company want to hide behind their initials? For whom does this form of ‘fast food’ branding work? (Where’s the beef?) Does it really break through and resonate with the consumer?HGI | Hilton Garden Inn

Branded Apps: The Next Frontier In Experiential Branding

Kraft Branded iPhone AppJust finished reading a very interesting article at imediaconnection.com on what we believe to be the next frontier in experiential branding: Branded Apps. In the article by Matt Kapco, titled “Secrets Behind 3 Branded iPhone App Successes,” Matt interviews a diverse group at the forefront of this new form of branded communication tool that’s exploding in popularity and importance. What brand in their right mind wouldn’t want to be tethered to a device that is with the consumer practically 24-hours-a-day? A highly recommended read for new and old brands alike at: http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/22121.asp

After reading this informative article we thought it might be fun to dream up a branded app ourselves. So, we put our thinking caps on and set out to select a company we thought could benefit by a branded app.

Zappos! LogoA relative newcomer to the experiential brandwagon and one of our favorites is the online shoes, handbags and now clothing retailer, Zappos! In a very short time the company has established itself as a benchmark leader in customer service and the brand itself is an online force with which to be reckoned. We thought that Zappos! would be a prime candidate for a branded Zappos! app, or “zAPP” as we like to call it, so we put together a wish list of what we’d like to see in a Zappos! branded application.

Zappos! Culture Book 2008At the core of their company “culture” and a key element to Zappos! success is their customer service. They even publish a book annually describing their culture in detail, which is available on their website.

So, in a Zappos! branded app, excuse me…zAPP; the app would have to have the ability to set up a customer service chat with a Zappos sales rep from within the application. This would be great because their reps make the Zappos! experience legendary and the ability to do this without straying from the branded zAPP is a must to fulfill the Zappos! brand promise. Better yet, if that chat session could be initiated within the zAPP and include a phone connection where it automatically connects to a rep from within the program, where both rep and caller could talk over speakerphone and view the products in question; that would be a newsworthy first!

Next, how about a “SoleSearch” feature? Type in the style of shoe you are looking for, say…a pump. Then heel height, toe style (i.e. pointed or squared), lace-up, size, width, color or color combination, leather or some other material and hit SoleSearch! The available shoes that match your search criteria then start appearing like magic in the zAPP’s window! Incorporate the iPhone OS shake feature and make the SoleSearch even more fun! Pretty cool, huh?

But why stop there? What if we know Zappos! carries a line of shoes you’ve had your eye on but it’s not available in your size at the moment because it is currently out of stock and thus not listed? How about creating an alert within the zAPP that we’ll call a “Shoehorn!” Simply enter the product number and the size you’re looking for and when it becomes available Zappos! sends you a “push alert” via the “ShoeHorn” giving you the heads-up that the object of your desire is in. Zappos! could even expand the capability to automatically place the item on hold, say for three days, giving you time to purchase your dream shoes when it’s convenient for you!

Well, I guess it’s become obvious we could go on and on about the subject of branded apps. What other companies do you think could benefit from a branded app and what type of dream app would you like to see?

This is an exciting time for brands to take a serious look at harnessing the power and potential of branded apps. This new technology, in creative hands, can go a long way in redefining and strengthening the experiential brand.

BOOKmarking Vol. One

Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands by Marty NeumeierWhen it comes to brand marketing, there are so many great books so little time to read them all! 

Maybe the best way to judge a book is by the number of highlighter pens that were exhausted in the process of reading a book? Using that as my yardstick, here are my top three (for the moment).

Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands by Marty Neumeier. Like the “little black dress,” this is the ‘little white book’ with a BIG message. From the word “ZAG” this exceptionally insightful and engagingly authoritative book is an easy-to-digest keeper.

BrandSimple: How the Best Brands Keep it Simple and Succeed by Allen P Adamson. “KISS” this book ‘hello!’ Adamson has managed to cut through the morass of most branding books to make the most complex aspects of branding Simple to understand and reproduce. He poses a series of questions and provides real world examples throughout that offer a clear and actionable framework for any business.

What’s Your BQ? Learn How 35 Companies Add Customers, Subtract Competitors, and Multiply Profits with Brand Quotient by Sandra Sellani. Last, but not the least among them, Sandra Sellani’s tactical “work book” is clear, concise and compelling. I found it to be an invaluable tool, chock full of thoughtful “brandstorming” questions and practical checklists for any brand marketer.

There are many noteworthy branding books out there… What are yours?


Detroit’s Brand “D”-lemma!

The D logoOne wonders if the “D” in Detroit’s newest acronym stands for “Duped.”  The “D” has long been associated with the city of Dallas, Texas. There is even a “D” Magazine (http://www.Dmagazine.com)which has been in print since October of 1974. If you Google “Dallas” +the Big D you’ll turn up over six million references. Can’t we be original here?

A city should “own” their brand…Dallas already owns the “D.” Detroit already owns MOTOWN and the WORLD knows it. Ask anyone where “Motown” is and they will point to Detroit. The city is going to have to spend a fortune to get people to associate Detroit with the “D,” especially if they know anything about Dallas. Why not work with what we have and save a lot of money in the process?

Motown does not have to equate simply with automotive and music, MO is “cool” slang for “MORE.” Even the Beatles stated, “give me MO,” (hear a tagline in there?) in a Hard Day’s Night. It’s just a matter of rebranding the MO in Motown to mean “MORE.” It should be our new “Mo!” The tagline for “MOtown” could be MO of Everything”: MO Fun, MO sports, MO nightlife, MO business opportunities, MO friendly and on and on. How easy is that? (Oops, that’s another city!)

Further, if the city and the convention bureau were so dead-set on separating Detroit from the automotive industry, why in the world did they spend who knows how much on a souped-up hotrod, tricked out with a TV and DVD and make it a centerpiece of their video presentation and promotional efforts? Who’s zoomin’ who? 

Give me MO over the “D” any day! 

Teleflora Super Bowl Ad: “The Beat Me Up Bouquet”

I thought Teleflora’s Super Bowl ad was missing an essential element that’s inherent in flowers: CLASS! In my opinion, Teleflora not only threw away $3M on the cost of the spot + production, they missed a golden opportunity to sell consumers on all the reasons someone would WANT to send flowers for Valentine’s or any occasion. Instead of a “forget me not” bouquet, TF spent big money to promote a “beat me up” bouquet. Who does that benefit? Certainly not TF members, the industry at large OR the consumer! Why couldn’t they have put that money into all the reasons why NOW is the best time to send flowers…you can’t afford a designer dress, but you can afford flowers. You can’t afford a fancy watch, but you can afford flowers. In fact, can you afford not to send flowers?!

Civic Duty

Just finished voting. It took just about an hour. This is a great day…don’t forget to vote! Here’s to a great future for all!

Moving Forward

We are looking forward to making our new blog a place where interested minds gather to share insights and observations about the world of branding. Thanks to WordPress for helping us expand our world.